Friday, February 7, 2014

Find your abs by summertime! Time is on your side!

Oh happy day! There are 40 days til Spring, and just in time, all the wheels of my Total Body Happiness project finally feel like they're turning. I'm finding time for sleep, meditation, exercise, thankfulness journaling, and prioritizing healthy eating. I give thanks to a manageable schedule that's so fun and yummy that I'm more than happy to stick to it, and I'm seeing results.

February is an awesome month to focus on the health and happiness of your body, especially in the Northeast. We need the endorphin boost that exercise gives us, and we need the healthy glow we aren't getting from the sun! But rest assured, we are starting to see the light at the end of the winter tunnel, and it's better to look ahead to bathing suit season now than to let it sneak up like a thief in the night. I've got a bikini that was a little too teeny last year; this year, I know I'm going to rock it, because time is on my side!

Here's a sample schedule that has always helped me lose weight and feel awesome. The key is eating 3 meals and 2 snacks to boost your metabolism. I also make sure I'm taking in lots of water all day, green tea in the morning, protein with every meal, good fats, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Check out the Total Body Happiness food shopping list for lots of ingredient options. Here's a sample schedule!

Wake up
Guzzle 8oz of water straight to your face.

Breakfast (within 30 mins of waking up)
2 eggs scrambled with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, spinach, tomatoes, a little feta, 1 piece of wheat or rye toast.
Kashi Go Lean cereal (it has protein!), almond milk, handful of berries.
A nutrient dense protein smoothie like this one.

Post-breakfast beverage
Hot mug of Green tea (catechin rich plus a light morning boost of caffeine)!

Mid-morning snack (2-3 hours after breakfast)
A small fruit and a handful of nuts.
2 whole grain brown rice cakes with a shmear of natural peanut butter.

Lunch (2-3 hours after snack)
A big salad, an antioxidant rich clear soup (example homemade chicken and vegetable), or leftovers from last night's healthy dinner. Today I had a pork and walnut salad with a whole clementine and a drizzle of Trader Joe's Champagne Vinaigrette!

Mid-afternoon snack (2-3 hours after lunch)
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla) with a handful of nuts and seeds, berries if you got em!

Pre-dinner workout
30 - 45 minutes of moderate to intense exercise. Do this 4 -6 days a week and you'll be on track to minimize stress, boost physical fitness, and increase endorphins. I use an arsenal of at-home workout DVDs by Beachbody, a couple dumbbells, and my music collection! If I "reeeally don't feeeeel like working out" I can always put on music and dance in the mirror. Just get yourself out of breath for 30 minutes and throw in some circuits of crunches and squats. You can do this.

Dinner (2-3 hours after snack, but try not to eat too close to bedtime)
Lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey, bison!) with a big portion of steamed or sauteed vegetables. Brown rice (1/3 to 1/2 cup) or whole wheat pasta (2 oz).

I like to have a glass of red wine to unwind, but some wines are better than others. Choose a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Save the beer and hard alcohol for the weekend or one cheat day/meal.

That's all she wrote, baby! After dinner, the kitchen is closed. If you do get a late-night snack attack, here are some tasty tricks:
  • Sugar-free gum or hard candy (I like Lifesavers pep-o-mints)
  • Kava, chamomile, St. John's Wort, or peppermint tea! (Anything caffeine-free is yay.)
  • Brush your teeth, drink a glass of water, and exert your willpower. If your stomach's actually growling, my research says that the best possible latenight snack for maximum fullness. fastest metabolism, and muscle fuel and recovery is a scoop of cottage cheese. The amino acids in cottage cheese even facilitate serotonin to make you sleepy.
I've been re-reading my copy of The New Abs Diet for Women by David Zinczenko, former editorial director of Women's Health magazine. I love the Abs Diet cheat sheet, so I'll post it for you here. The plan is to eat your meals spaced evenly throughout the day, and make sure that each meal contains at least two of the following:

Almonds and other nuts
Beans and legumes
Spinach and other green vegetables

Dairy (fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese)
Instant oatmeal (unsweetened, unflavored)
Turkey and other lean meats

Peanut butter
Olive oil
Whole-grain breads and cereals
Extra protein (whey) powder
Rasperries and other berries

Enjoy! And if you do, please subscribe for updates! Post your comments and questions below!